As operators hash out their big-data strategies, the prospect of monetizing the stashes of customer data they have accumulated is looking increasingly appealing. JDS Uniphase (JDSU) wants to help them do it without ruffling any feathers.
The test and measurement vendor's new Location Insights Services (LIS), a variation on the more familiar location-based services (LBS), is born from its March acquisition of geolocation software maker Arieso. The idea is that mobile operators take the wealth of location data they already have at their disposal, aggregate and anonymize it, and sell it to businesses who want to study the trends to inform decisions, such as where they should open their next storefront, where customers may shop next, or where and when they should display ads to reach a certain demographic.
JDSU (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) says its GEOinsights application lets them share this data bundled by external systems without the need for complex system integration with data warehouses.
LIS differs from traditional LBS in that the data collected is not down to the individual and it doesn't require them to opt in or accept ads on their smartphones. It's the business-to-business or business-to-government approach, as Dr. Michael Flanagan, CTO of the Arieso business unit at JDSU, describes it.
"Location Insight Services is not trying to provide an instantaneous answer on current location, but telling more about how that is trending," he says.
And, it's a market that could be worth $11 billion by 2016, according to JDSU's own research, carried out by STL Partners. Flanagan says operators could opt to directly sell their data to businesses or work with a partner that would manage the service and combine their data with other operators.
Why this matters
Even thought this type of aggregation is much less personal than individually targeted LBS, operators will still have to tread carefully. Telefónica Digital learned the hard way that services have to be transparent and end-user controlled after its plan to sell anonymized data to retailers in Germany prompted a backlash. (See Telefónica Digital Plays By Its Own Rules .)
And, if there's one thing the NSA scandal has taught us, it's that people are sensitive to what data is tracked and how it's used, even if operators are technically operating within their rights. It's a big opportunity, but one operators will also have to keep in check.
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— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading